Rule 20 of the Hawaii Supreme Court Rules allows attorneys not engaged in the active practice of law to provide legal representation to members of the community who cannot afford private legal services.
A “pro bono publicus attorney” is an inactive member of the Hawaii Bar who is not otherwise engaged in the practice of law. Pro bono attorneys are members in good standing of the Hawaii Bar and have no record of discipline for professional misconduct imposed at any time within the past 15 years and who did not resign or retire from the practice of law with disciplinary charges pending or in lieu of discipline.
Pro bono attorneys may provide free civil legal services under the supervision of a qualified legal services provider. A “qualified legal services provider” for the purposes of the pro bono rules is a non-profit services organization that receives or is eligible to receive funds from the Indigent Legal Assistance Fund and has an actively licensed Hawaii attorney who supervises pro bono attorneys.
Pro bono attorneys cannot otherwise engage in the practice of law and cannot ask for nor receive professional compensation of any kind for the legal services rendered. The qualified legal services provider may reimburse the attorneys for actual expenses incurred. Qualified legal services providers are entitled to receive any court-awarded fees for representation rendered by the pro bono attorneys. Collection of any money from the client, including but not limited to reimbursement for expenses, must be handled exclusively by the qualified legal services agency.
Active fees, dues, and charges are waived for any members acting exclusively as pro bono attorneys. Pro bono attorneys must pay inactive fees, dues, and charges.
Application and Certification
A qualified legal services provider is required to file a sworn statement with the Hawaii Bar that:
- Provides the name of the pro bono attorney.
- States that the pro bono attorney will not be paid compensation.
- States the pro bono attorney will be covered by the provider’s malpractice insurance.
- Agrees to notify the Hawaii Bar within ten days that the association with the pro bono attorney has ceased.
- States that the pro bono attorney has read and is familiar with the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct.
- States that the qualified legal services provider has verified that the pro bono attorney has not been disciplined within the last 15 years in any jurisdiction.